Sunday, October 31, 2010

yarn fun

Love love love the feel and look of this scarf I just finished. It's drying after a quick dip, and feels like "buttah"! This is a yarn and pattern I found at Knitter's Palette Yarn Shop. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Baby Suri Silk (color 11) and I have not used it before so this is a pleasant result. The pattern was a free handout from the yarn shop when I purchased the yarn, it is called the Chevron Scarf and was displayed in the shop made with Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. This Misti Alpaca is a DK weight yarn, so a little heavier than the sock yarn, but with the right size needles (US 5) it turnedout great. If you area knitter, I highly recommend you give this a try! Now back to my quilts! And the orange brownies I just baked!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

distinctly fall

The yummy smell of simmering applesauce is making me very happy right now! Wish I had smell-o-vision to share with you. What is it that makes applesauce such an autumnal cooking tradition? We have apples all year round, yet the fall apple harvest triggers this frenzy of apple cooking. This is my second batch this week, and it is so easy that I thought I owe it to you to divulge my secrets: Secret #1, get yourself one of these apple peeler-corer-slicer thingies. I got mine at Mills Fleet Farm for under $20 a couple years ago, but they are available in many stores and online. It is a miracle. In short order I had 10 big Haralson apples ready for cooking. The apple is speared through the core and then rotated by turning the crank over on the right (out of the picture). The little blade on the front shaves off a thin strip of peel. As the cranking continues the apple runs into a circular blade thatmakes a continuous spiral cut. In the picture on the right the apple is nearly completely sliced.
After the slicing is all done, the good part is easily removed and you are left with the core:

Secret #2, use a crockpot.
For these 10 apples I added 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Cook on high for about 3 hours, or until you reach the consistency that you like. Don't be afraid to load up that crockpot when you start because this really cooks down to a much smaller volume. And you want plenty to savor when it is all done!

Today we (Bob and I) have been in SW Minneapolis helping out at the new home of our daughter and son-in-law. We spent a good chunk of time outside raking and cleaning up the yard, they have a huge maple tree in the backyard that gifted them with many many lovely leaves. Not looking so lovely now in a legion of black trashbags! Then we moved indoors for some little fixit jobs, cleaning floors and washing woodwork. They just moved in 5 days ago so some boxes remain to be unpacked, but progress has been made. Transitioning from their 1 bedroom apartment in San Francisco to 3 stories of house is a pleasure for them. I even took several of Brita's boxes from our basement to her basement--yahoo!!
They have met some nice neighbors and are just in time for all the trick-or-treaters tomorrow! Even though it is a lot of work and a lot to think about, they look like they are enjoying homeownership together! Some parts of the house have had some great updates, and some still reflect the character of a house of the 50's. We are so happy that they can make this house their home. I think they need applesauce!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I guess many people search for meaning in their lives, but I am searching for fabric! I have a plan in mind for a variation of my Star Light quilt and it involves this pretty little polka dot that turned up in my stash from an unknown source. It is only a fat quarter. I need more to make it work. I might be able to find something else similar, after looking online for a bit I can find a multitude of red polka dots with dots all in a row, but I have my mind set on this one so I am going to exhaust all my resources before I settle.
Here's Star Light in blue--
I want this polka dot for the little squares in the border that looks a bit like a zigzag. So if anyone glancing at this page knows who designed/manufactured this fabric, or even better, where to get some, please give me a shout!
I finished binding up the Knittin' Mittens quilt, I really like this little stripe. I like the process of putting bindings on my quilts, and I often choose a stripe or plaid that gives a special little finishing touch.
We have had some major winds here the past 2 days, it was nice to wake up this morning and not hear the howling outside. Two great big pine trees blew down in our neighborhood, and we were without power for about 16 hours which is very unusual for us. Usually we get a little flicker of outage, but rarely something lasting that long. Really made us stop and think about all we are so used to having, but which many people in the world would consider a luxury. Flushing toilets, heated running water, refrigeration, heat, lights, TV, stove, microwave, automatic garage door opener, sewing machines! All those basics. But we did manage to keep warm and read by flashlight, and we were very happy to have everything working again. Kind of reminds me of this quote:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. --Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, October 22, 2010

my mind on vacation

I guess I needed a little getaway without going anywhere! My mind skipped town for awhile, not paying attention to bloggy details like updating posts, even though my body never left the neighborhood. So nice to have a little mind walkabout in this beautiful autumnal time. Now I'mback, hopefully to stay!

I had been missing out on some time with my regular sewing machines, not the longarm, and last Friday I got to makeup for some lost time. I spent the whole day happily ensconsed in my sewing room, completed 2 small projects and started a third, so that felt good. This little purse is one that I finished, it is called the Two HourTulip Tote from Anything But Boring.
And it did come close to 2 hours, which isn't bad for the first run-through. Next time I would make a bigger size with some outside pockets. This one has a simple button closure, but instructions are included for a flap with velcro or magnetic snap, also. By the way, I was able to scrounge up a dark brown elastic ponytail holder for the loop over the button, it works perfectly!
A couple days ago I finished up a quilt for a customer in some beautiful colors of turquoise and brown, I filled the diamond shapes with feathers, which show up nicely on her muslin backing--
This morning I am finishing up a quilt for myself--Yeah! It is one that I started last January so I think this qualifies as my October Pledge to Finish project. It was all paper-pieced and is titled Knittin' Mittens from Marjorie Rhine at Quilt Design Northwest.
If you have ever done paper-piecing, you might already be aware of the problem that can happen when larger segments are joined together and the right color of thread is not used. Yes, I hastily used my usual neutral colored thread and should have changed to something dark, considering I was sewing dark blue fabric. With the bulk of the paper in the seams, there can be a little gap left when the paper is removed. This left little white thread dots in some of the seamlines. I thought I could ignore it, and probably would have if I had maintained some distance, but when I am up close and personal on the quilt frame, those little dots looked like flashing neon lights to me! Out comes the marker to save the day! Little dabs of blue ink on the offending white fibers make all the difference, as you can see in the before-and-after photos below:
Much better! Almost done with this one, then a pretty striped binding, and it is off the UFO list!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

extreme makeover

A few weeks ago I shared pictures of some of my favorite "older" quilts. Now here's the rest of the story...
In 1975, when we were given this quilt for a wedding gift, it was accompanied by another work of art created by my sister, Jan and brother, Jared. It was a cross stitch sampler that matched the quilt, framed in a custom wood frame. Jan did the stitching and Jarry did the nailing. We hung it on the wall in our home for a long time, but it had not seen the light of day for awhile. I pulled it out of a storage box and found it very well aged, and not nearly as lovely as it was meant to be. So I decided to rejuvenate it. Here you can see the before and after--
The difference in color is not due to lighting! The linen fabric had yellowed dramatically, and was spotted and dreary looking. The frame was just fine after a little dusting and polishing. But the needlework needed some TLC. I used Vintage Textile Soak, a product made just for this problem.
After a nice long soak, this is the water that I poured out of the pan--yuck!
Now, after pressing and remounting, this sampler is making a reappearance in our home! Thank you Jan and Jarry!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

awesome quilt show

This week I had a little getaway with my friend, Debbie, to Des Moines. We decided to go to the American Quilter's Society show there on Wednesday and Thursday. We were able to get into a convenient hotel and it's an easy drive down I-35, so why not? We made a few stops along the way--Knitter's Palette Yarn Shop and Penzey's Spices, quite handy because they share a parking lot and we get to indulge 2 of our favorite things! We found good yarn and good spices to stow in the back seat. We had planned to stop in a quilt shop in Ames, but somehow we completely missed the exit and found ourselves at the Ankeny exit. I think Debbie must have distracted me. But that was a good thing, because we had planned to stop in Ankeny, too, both for shopping and family. We first stopped at the Quilter's Cupboard and then at their new Knitting Next Door store. We liked the quilt shop, it was kind of a surprise inside because the front looks like a small house, but once inside it goes waaay back, with several rooms of fun fabric. They do a good job of making the best use of space. Then we popped over to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Alan's house for a visit and spaghetti supper. Cousin Lisa was also able to come, so we had some fun things to remember and talk about. Alan and Mary are living in a great townhouse, very big and roomy, I'm sure I could find townhouse living to be a good experience with the kind of space that they have. Even a workshop and room for a longarm!

Wednesday we marveled at the fabulous quilts on display and shopped at the many vendor booths. We did find several things that needed to come home with us, some for ourselves and some for presents, especially for our quilty friends.
I do have a few pictures to share--
This one is an optical illusion, the pastel colored blocks are actually all square and in straight rows, but the alternating arrangement of the little black and white squares make it all seem to bend in the middle. Cool, huh?
I took the next picture because I liked the color combination of the rusty orange/turquoise/gray. Might have to work that into a quilt of my own.
This next quilt was an amazing example of applique and machine quilting, I guess the big "Best of Show" ribbon means I wasn't the only one to like it!
You can see the designer's blog and a good slideshow of the creation of this quilt here.

We had dinner together with my Aunt Donna and cousins Debbie and Ronna (and spouses, can't forget them!)--we haven't seen a lot of each other but I really enjoy spending time with them again. These 2 girls and my sister, Jan, and I spent many happy summer weeks together. They are the best!
Since coming home I have had time to do a couple fun things, like quilting up this Lucky Stars quilt that is going to be a charitable donation,
and even sewing my own teeny tiny quilt, shown here with the squash that Bob has harvested from our garden--
this is the Primitive Pinwheels from Primitive Gatherings and is a take-off on the Little Twister ruler that is a great tool. These blocks started at 3 1/2" squares, so the little template/ruler for that size was included in the pattern. While talking with one of the women at the Primitive Gatherings booth, I found out that they are soon opening a retreat house near their store in Menasha, WI--this is good news because a few of us have wanted to go to their store, but it is longer than a day trip and this would make it so easy! Here I am, talking about another trip already! Better get caught up on a few things around here first!

Friday, October 1, 2010

good eating

I've been doing some on-line research on the topic of once-a-month-cooking and today I have been busy in or near my kitchen all day long! This is not the norm for me! I do like to do some cooking, but what I still struggle with is thinking of what to cook. Bob is much better at that than I am. Even after raising up those kids and living the good life in the empty nest, I still can't seem to get my act together 9 times out of 10! So even though these monthly cooking binges are more aimed at younger families with kids at home, I am applying some of those principles for the 2 of us. This is what I came up with--
Oh, that's just the detritus of my day of slaving over a hot stove! The good stuff is mostly already in the freezer: 2 pans of tater tot hotdish, 3 pans of porcupine meatballs, 2 containers of chicken pot pie filling with accompanying frozen crusts, 2 pans of apple & sausage pancakes, 2 bags of bean & ham soup, and soon 2 bags of beef stew. Whew! And a roast with potatoes and carrots in the oven for supper! It has been kind of fun, except for the dirty dishes part, and this will get me off the hook for many nights to come! A wonderful autumnal day here and I found this when I went out to the mailbox--
I love the feel of that milkweed fluff, it is like nothing else on earth. Some of the plush minkee-type fabrics do come close, I think that's why I always see people fondling those bolts in the shop!

I finished up a quilt for Donna, a friend and member of the Ham Lake Piecemakers. It is a collection of blocks with a sunflower and birdhouse theme. Very cute, and now ready for binding!

Remember back in August I told you about the closet? Well, the makeover is nearly done, and this is what it's looking like now--
I think I'm ready to put the doors back on and call it done. I feel so good about the sorting and cleaning that this involved, with quite a few things heading elsewhere to new homes. I found an alarming number of bags of all shapes and sizes, that many bags can't be healthy! So 3 bags full of bags went to my mom for a church bazaar and I have one bag of bags to give to Brita, but I am still left with 4 big bags of bags! So I will be considering what to do about that. Bob did a fabulous job putting up all those shelves with good support so my heavy boxes don't make them saggy.
Sooo--that's what I've been up to lately. And finished the Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, a spellbinder to the very end. It's the end of the stories about Lisbeth Salander, and I would love to continue reading more mysteries about her, so it's bittersweet to be done. She's the grownup version of Pippi Longstocking, one of my favorite storybook characters. I wanted to be just like Pippi! But that was the 60's, and anything seemed possible! But every now and then I think I need to get in touch with my inner Pippi, don't you?